My new friend, Emily, recently announced that after 4.5 years of living in Brussels and working for the Wall Street Journal, her husband accepted a new job as a columnist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution. They are moving back to the USA the beginning of May. Wow. I just met her in January. The constant flux of friends coming and going is a tough fact of life in the expat community.
The only silver lining when expats leave is that they want to get rid of all their stuff for next to nothing - pronto! Remember the electrical sockets are different so no appliances transfer. I went over and bought 2 fans (we don't have AC here) and also an alarm clock from Emily. (Can you believe I have lived 6 months without an alarm clock?!!?) It was also a good excuse to hug Emily's neck and say goodbye.
I was shocked that Emily also took the time to lovingly pack and give us several goodie bags. They were full of travel books and maps from her time here. I felt like a kid in a candy store. I spread them all over the floor when we got home and dreamed up new adventures. Talk about someone who came with all her heart! Emily must have more resources and literature than anyone else in Belgium.
Kirk was of course especially excited about the Beer Map in his quest to see all the Trappist Breweries in Belgium. I was most excited about the map of the nearby Forest and the many small laminated maps of European cities. Those really come in handy!
As Emily loaded all the treasures in our car she pulled out a big green binder. I could tell it was one she took great pride in, but I didn't know exactly what was inside. She told me she wanted ME to have it and it was a compilation of the most helpful articles and information of her favorite spots. She had collected and organized it all over her four years in Brussels. It is indeed so helpful and inspiring. The plastic sleeves are full of the best of the best ideas and destinations. She said something about me having the same "travel energy" as she does. I thanked her for the compliment and assured her I would appreciate the binder and pass it along when I am leaving too. In this way Emily's wonderful Belgian "legacy" will live on! Emily was so dear because as she saw all of this leaving her possession I think it hit her all that is happening right now and she got a little teary. Saying goodbye to Brussels life and all it has to offer is tough.
Thank you Emily! You are a classic example of someone who came to Brussels with your entire heart! Now take your sweet family and jump head first back into Atlanta. Buying new cars and finding a place to live will be overwhelming no doubt. But I can think of no one more ready and prepared for the challenge of repatriation!